Pickwick Theatre

108 W. Main Street,
Syracuse, IN 46567

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bluesneaky on June 19, 2011 at 7:42 pm

For a good history with photos to back up the text see the following link http://www.waymarking.com/waymarks/WMBBNM_Pickwick_Theater_Syracuse_IN

The theater was built before 1934 as you can easily tell by the photo of the newspaper clipping detailing a fire that broke out in 1925. It has actually survived three fires.

Here are some clips from the waymarking page:

This theater has a fascinating history. It has been rebuilt 4 times as it stands and has survived 3 fires that burned everything around it to the ground! One of those fires even burned off the second floor of the theater but it still survived. The history dates back to the turn of the century. Pictures date to 1905.

The theater survived its first fire in 1925! Three people were hurt in the fire but no on was killed thank goodness. It was rebuilt and a second story and fancy Swiss type front facade was added to the theater. It was incorporated into a “theater complex” way back in the 30’s! It was known as the Picwick but it was not just a theater, it was a whole block of businesses and with the radically unique styling it was quite the talk in all the surrounding counties. But it wouldn’t last.

Once again fire would strike. In 1946 the entire complex burned to the ground, all that is but the theater which survived its second bout with fire. The lobby was destroyed as was the second story above it but the theater itself made it through. Following the fire the rest of the block was razed. The theater lobby though was rebuilt once again and the theater itself cleaned up and it was open for business again.

Tough life for sure but it wasn’t over. Once again in the 1970’s the “Pickwick Block” catches fire and burns to the ground again, that is all but the theater. The restaurant right next door was totaled as was the drug store next to it all the way to the corner. Some how the theater did not burn but everything else was demolished. So again the Pickwick Block was rebuilt. This time though a new style was incorporated, different but just as radical as its old styling before the 1946 fire.

This time the basement of the old block was saved (remember now the theater is still ok – it needed a little refurbishment and rebuilding of the marquee and the facade which keeps getting blasted with every fire but it survives). The Pickwick Block basement is made into a restaurant and on top of it a small park is made with buildings that face inward to the park. This is how the Pickwick Block stands today. The restaurant is called “The Down Under”.

Check out the photos at the waymarking site. I will try to post some of them here as well.

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on November 9, 2010 at 5:18 pm

May 1 1970 and the hit “OLIVER” is ending its long run,with “WHATEVER HAPPENED TO AUNT ALICE” coming next.

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on November 2, 2010 at 8:51 pm

Thanks for all the pictures posted.Nice looking theatre.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on April 22, 2009 at 8:24 pm

Rebuilding of the Pickwick must have taken longer than originally expected. Boxoffice said in its issue of February 15, 1947, that the new Pickwick had opened that week.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on April 22, 2009 at 8:11 pm

The current Pickwick Theatre is the second on the site, the first having been destroyed by fire less than a decade after opening.

Boxoffice reported in its October 7, 1944, issue that the Pickwick Block in Syracuse, Indiana, had been sold by its owner, W.E. Long, to a Chicago theater syndicate. The item included these lines: “The Pickwick block was opened by Long in 1937, and houses one of the most modern and comfortable theatres in the state, air conditioned the year around. The building is 141x150 feet, full basement and two stories in height.”

I can’t find an initial report on the fire that destroyed the first Pickwick, but the July 27, 1946, issue of Boxoffice carried this item, datelined Syracuse, Ind. and headed “Rebuild Theatre in Syracuse”: “Work has started on the rebuilding of the theatre in the Pickwick block, which was destroyed by fire early in the spring. A cocktail lounge and bowling alley in the same block are also being erected. Work is expected to be completed by mid-October.”

kencmcintyre on January 31, 2009 at 5:03 pm

This is from Boxoffice magazine in August 1962:

SYRACUSE, IND.-Business has been “very good”, according to Max L. Patterson, since he reopened the Pickwick Theater on August 4. Patterson has also started a program to redecorate the Pickwick, which he has leased from the Glazier Bros., owners of the Pickwick block.

Patterson also operates the Boice Theater in Warsaw. He has been in motion picture exhibition for 16 years.